Neither the Captain nor any of his people spoke French, and we had been much amused before by the chambermaid acting out the old story of “Will you lend me the loan of a gridiron?” A Polish lady was on board, with a French waiting-maid, who understood no word of English. The daughter of John Bull would speak to the lady in English, and, when she found it of no use, would say imperiously to the suivante, “Go and ask your mistress what she will have for breakfast.” And now when I went on deck there was a parley between the two steamers, which the Captain was obliged to manage by such interpreters as he could find; it was a long and confused business. It ended at last in the Neapolitan steamer taking us in tow for an inglorious return to Leghorn. When she had decided upon this she swept round, her lights glancing like sagacious eyes, to take us. The sea was calm as a lake, the sky full of stars; she made a long detour, with her black hull, her smoke and lights, which look so pretty at night, then came round to us like the bend of an arm embracing. It was a pretty picture, worth the stop and the fright,—perhaps the loss of twenty-four hours, though I did not think so at the time.
At Leghorn we changed the boat, and, retracing our steps, came now at last to Naples,—to this priest-ridden, misgoverned, full of dirty, degraded men and women, yet still most lovely Naples,—of which the most I can say is that the divine aspect of nature can make you forget the situation of man in this region, which was surely intended for him as a princely child, angelic in virtue, genius, and beauty, and not as a begging, vermin-haunted, image kissing Lazzarone.
ITALY.—MISFORTUNE OF TRAVELLERS.—ENGLISH
COCKNEYISM.—MACDONALD THE SCULPTOR.—BRITISH ARISTOCRACY.—
TENERANI.—WOLFF’S DIANA AND SEASONS.—GOTT.—CRAWFORD.—OVERBECK
THE PAINTER.—AMERICAN PAINTERS IN ROME.—TERRY.—GRANCH.—HICKS.—
REMAINS OF THE ANTIQUE.—ITALIAN PAINTERS.—DOMENICHIMO AND
TITIAN.—FRESCOS OF RAPHAEL.—MICHEL ANGELO.—THE COLOSSEUM.—HOLY
WEEK.—ST. PETER’S.—PIUS IX. AND HIS MEASURES.—POPULAR
ENTHUSIASM.—PUBLIC DINNER AT THE BATHS OF TITUS.—AUSTRIAN
Rome, May, 1847.
There is very little that I can like to write about Italy. Italy is beautiful, worthy to be loved and embraced, not talked about. Yet I remember well that, when afar, I liked to read what was written about her; now, all thought of it is very tedious.
The traveller passing along the beaten track, vetturinoed from inn to inn, ciceroned from gallery to gallery, thrown, through indolence, want of tact, or ignorance of the language, too much into the society of his compatriots, sees the least possible of the country; fortunately, it is impossible to avoid seeing a great deal. The great features of the part pursue and fill the eye.